When Dessert Animals Have Fast Food

7 Super Cool Desert Animals: How they Eat and Other Adaptions that Help Them Thrive

Have you ever gotten a good look at a desert animal up close and personal? Some of the Earth’s desert creatures, you may have observed, have specific adaptations to endure the heat of the desert, extended periods without water and other harsh conditions such as windy conditions and blowing sand, among other things. But what do they eat when there isn’t much else to choose from? Come along with me as I get a close-up look at seven incredibly interesting desert creatures and learn more about what and how they consume!


The camel is one of the first animals that comes to mind when someone says the desert, and for good reason. Its unique adaptations allow it to survive for more than a week without water and for several months without food, as well as to suffer up to a 40 percent weight loss during the dry seasons when food is scarce. These hardy creatures can also consume up to 32 gallons of water at a go – and do it in less than 15 minutes. A camel may utilize its mouth to help it survive in a variety of ways.

(To be more accurate, it’s more like projectile vomiting in their direction.

  1. Camels can consume vegetation that other animals cannot because they have canine teeth that are powerful enough to shatter wood.
  2. Additionally, the camel’s hump stores fat, which is advantageous for the camel’s ability to serve as a food and/or water source in addition to its other functions.
  3. First and foremost, he should seal his nostrils.
  4. What’s more, there is more.
  5. They’re not particularly attractive, but they provide a crucial function!


This kind of desert mammal, sometimes known as javelina, is distinguished by its curved, short tusks, which allow it to easily rip through vegetation such as the prickly pear cactus. They also have extraordinarily robust digestive systems, which allows them to eat such things without being affected by the plant’s innumerable small prickly thorns, which would otherwise be fatal to them. A advantage for the peccary is that the prickly pear cactus is densely packed with water, making it an excellent source of hydration for the animal in the scorching heat of the Arizona desert.

Black-Tailed Jack Rabbit

The black-tailed (as pictured above) and white-tailed hares, as well as the snowshoe and antelope rabbit, are all collectively referred to as jackrabbits, with the black-tailed hare being the only one that can be found in four desert ecosystems in the southwestern United States. These super-fast critters “had two pairs of sharp front teeth, one pair on top and one pair on the bottom, which are positioned on either side of the mouth.” They also have two peg teeth behind the upper incisors, which is unusual for them.

Hares graze on grass, clover, wildflowers, weeds, and crops grown on farms and in gardens from spring until October.

It is during the winter months that their diet changes to include buds, twigs, bark, pine needles, and virtually any green plant.” An interesting side note: Jackrabbits re-ingest their droppings to aid in the digestion of the substance, which is referred to as coprophagous behavior in humans.

Fire Ants

All of the hares, including the black-tailed (pictured above) and white-tailed (shown below), as well as the snowshoe and antelope rabbits, are collectively referred to as jackrabbits, with the exception of the black-tailed, which is found in four desert regions of the southwestern United States. They have two pairs of sharp front teeth, one on top and one on the bottom, which allow them to move extremely quickly.” They also have two peg teeth behind the upper incisors, which are visible when you bite your cheek.

Hares graze on grass, clover, wildflowers, weeds, and crops grown on farms and in gardens from spring through fall.


Although these desert birds are well-known for their quickness on the ground, did you realize that they have adapted to their environment? Throughout the first place, they will never, ever need to drink even a single drop of water in their whole lives. (They take sips from time to time, but they are not required to do so.) (Continue reading!) The roadrunner’s food, which includes insects, reptiles, eggs, fruits, seeds, scorpions, snails, and other creatures, provides them with all of the moisture they require.

What are some of their favorite foods?

That’s right, you read that correctly.

When a roadrunner encounters a meal that is too large to consume in one sitting, it will store it in its bill and consume it in little bites until it is entirely digested by the roadrunner.

Addax Antelope

The Addax Antelope is another another desert animal that will not perish if it cannot find water to drink in the near future. Because of its long spiraling horns, this magnificent creature is well-liked by many people, which may or may not be the major reason this animal is on the endangered species list. In fact, it is possible that there are just three people remaining who live in the Saharan desert. When it is hot outside, its coat is white, which helps to keep it cool. A short, stumpy snout allows the Addax to feed on the harsh desert grasses, acacias, and tubers that grow abundantly in the desert environment.

Their favorite eating sites are those that are open early in the morning or late at night, when moisture from the air may be sucked down into their food.

One particularly interesting adaption they’ve acquired is the ability to collect water while also preserving it by excreting both dry feces and concentrated urine at the same time, which helps to keep their body temperature down.

Desert Monitor

The Addax Antelope is another another desert animal that will not perish if it is unable to obtain water to drink. Long spiraling horns on this gorgeous creature are admired by many, and this might be one of the reasons why this animal is on the endangered species list. Perhaps just three people are left who live in the Saharan desert, according to current estimates. In the summer, its coat is white, which aids in keeping it cool by reflecting heat. A short, stumpy snout allows the Addax to feed on the harsh desert grasses, acacias, and tubers that grow abundantly in the desert.

In the morning or at night, they go to food establishments so that moisture from the air may be sucked into their meal.

There’s one particularly interesting adaptation they’ve made: they can collect water while also preserving it by excreting both dry feces and concentrated pee at the same time, which helps to keep their body temperature down.

What kind of food do animals eat in the desert? – SidmartinBio

q uick q uick Answer. Desert animals mostly eat vegetation, insects, corpses, and the remains of other animals. Compared to larger creatures, smaller species are more likely to survive and thrive in the desert environment. This is due to the fact that food and water are few in the desert, and the climatic conditions are quite harsh.

How are desert animals adapted to their environment?

Desert animals must learn to survive on a relatively limited diet and with limited water availability. The vast majority of desert creatures are either insectivorous or carnivorous. Finding prey in this harsh environment is extremely challenging, and they frequently adapt to their surroundings in order to hide themselves.

What are the most basic problems of desert animals?

Desert animals’ most fundamental physiological concern is to maintain a positive water balance by increasing their water intake and/or decreasing their water loss as much as possible. Free-standing water is limited in deserts, and it can only be found in small oases and reservoirs scattered over the landscape. Camels and wild asses are examples of this.

Why are animals called xerocoles in the desert?

The creatures of the desert are referred to as “Xerocoles” (desert wolves). This directly translates into Greek as “dry” and “to occupy.” Moreover, we are looking at some of the people that live in some of the driest and hottest regions on the planet! In the desert, the animals that have evolved to the harsh environment and scorching heat are often robust and adept at conserving water resources.

What to do if you cant find food in the desert?

Holding a tiny amount of the cooked plant in your mouth for a few seconds can allow you to determine whether it is safe. If the flavor is unpleasant (extremely bitter, nauseous, or scorching), do not consume it. If there isn’t any water available, don’t eat. Unless you have a lot of water on hand. Don’t wear yourself out searching for food; instead, preserve your sweat.

What happens to people who live in food deserts?

And the more you eat, the more probable it is that you will die from diet-related illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and type 2 diabetes.

People who live in food deserts and rely on fast food often have a sevenfold increased chance of having a stroke before the age of 45, a twofold increased risk of heart attack and type 2 diabetes, and a fourfold increased risk of kidney failure.

Why do smaller animals survive in the desert?

As a result, the higher your risk of dying from diet-related illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes increases as you age. A stroke is seven times more likely to occur before the age of 45 in people who live in food deserts and who frequently eat fast food. A heart attack and type 2 diabetes are also twice as likely, and renal failure is four times more likely in people who live in food deserts.

Desert Animal Survival – DesertUSA

Chuckwalla The scarcity of water poses a threat to the existence of all desert creatures, including both animals and plants. A further issue confronts animals: they are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations than plants, making them more vulnerable to extinction. Indirect heat transfer occurs through conduction from the substrate (rocks and soil) and convection from the air. Animals acquire heat directly from the sun and indirectly through conduction from the substrate (rocks and soil). It is only within a very restricted temperature range that the biological processes of animal tissue can work properly.

  • In the desert, daily temperatures can surpass this range, which is referred to as the range of thermoneutrality, for four or five months out of the year for four or five months.
  • Fortunately, most desert animals have evolved both behavioral and physiological adaptations to deal with the extreme heat and lack of water that the desert climate brings with itself.
  • The numerous techniques that different animal species have devised to collect, preserve, recycle, and even produce water are just as brilliant.
  • Keeping the Heat at Bay Animals living in the desert have developed a variety of behavioral strategies to cope with the extreme heat.
  • The Costa’s hummingbird, a desert species with a purple crown and purple throat, begins nesting in late winter and leaves in late spring when temperatures grow too high.
  • Some birds, such as the kingbird, are active throughout the day, although they prefer to sit in the shade whenever possible.
  • This is why people are rarely confronted by rattlesnakes and Gila monsters in their natural habitat.

Bats, many snakes, most rodents, and several bigger mammals such as foxes and skunks are nocturnal creatures who spend their days resting in a cold lair, cave, or burrow.

There are several mammals, reptiles, insects, and all of the desert amphibians among them.

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Gila Monster is a fictional character created by the author Gila Monster.

They take advantage of the opportunity to sleep away the hottest portion of summer.

They then emerge, reproduce, lay eggs, and refill their bodily supplies of food and water, which allows them to survive for an extended length of time.

During the warmest seasons, certain desert lizards are active, but they travel incredibly quickly over scorching surfaces, pausing only in cooler “islands” of shade to cool down.

Dissipating Heat is a technical term.

A variety of birds such as owls, poorwills, and nighthawks gape open-mouthed while quickly flapping their neck area in an attempt to evaporate water from their mouth cavity.

When a jackrabbit is sleeping in a cool, shaded environment, the animal’s huge ears, which contain numerous blood veins, generate heat.

Vultures from the New World, such as the turkey and black vultures, have a dark coloration that allows them to absorb a lot of heat in the desert.

These successful birds of the African deserts, known as storks, exhibit the same tendency, which is known as urohydrosis, as their cousins.

Many desert animals are lighter in color than their cousins who live in more temperate climates or in other parts of the world.

Because of the bright, pallid surroundings, pale colors not only ensure that the animal absorbs less heat from the environment, but they also make it less noticeable to predators that are looking for food.

They range in complexity from the simple to the physiologically sophisticated.

Some predatory and scavenging animals (for example, the turkey vulture) can receive all of the moisture they require from the food they consume, yet they will still drink if water is available.

This results in a significant water savings.

As a result, most animals require access to a plentiful quantity of fresh water at least every few days, if not on a daily basis.

Desert critters get water directly from plants, particularly succulent plants such as cactus, which are abundant in the desert.

Plant fluids such as honey or sap are tapped by certain insects from stems, while others draw water from the plant components they consume, such as leaves and fruit.

Some desert organisms make use of all of these physical and behavioral mechanisms in order to withstand the extremes of heat and dryness that they encounter.

There are several species of these inventive rodents, and each has adapted kidneys with additional tiny tubules that allow them to remove the majority of the water from their urine and restore it to the blood stream.

Not only that, but kangaroo rats and certain other desert rodents are able to produce their own water through the digestion of dry seeds, which is a significant source of nutrition for them.

These are only a few instances of the creative diversity of adaptations that creatures employ to survive in the desert, overcoming the extremes of heat and scarcity of water that the environment presents.

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The name of Peter Siminski is a play on the words “Peter Siminski” and “Siminski.” Have you ever been perplexed as to how animals can survive in such a difficult environment as the desert? Water, which is essential for all biological functions, is frequently in short supply. When temperatures fluctuate from below zero to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), keeping a safe body temperature is a continual issue. Add to this the conundrum of desert survival: an organism’s requirement for water grows as the temperature rises, yet the amount of accessible water decreases as the temperature climbs.

Most animals’ major method for dealing with high desert temperatures is avoidance; many of them simply avoid the high daytime temperatures by becoming nocturnal or crepuscular in their behavior (dusk- or dawn-active).

Even birds that are active during the day are most active in the colder hours of the morning.

Microclimates and Burrows

Another approach for avoiding a hot environment is to seek for a cool microclimate. Rather than nesting on the south face of a cliff, the prairie falcon prefers to build its nest on the ledge of a cool north-facing rock face to avoid the scorching sun on the south face. A pallid bat may seek sanctuary in a cold, deep crack in the cliff face during the day, while a ringtail may be found napping in a jumble of boulders at the base of the cliff. Some mammals have the ability to generate their own microclimates.

  • It may be three feet high and eight feet broad, and it has a trash-like appearance to it.
  • It’s a beautiful sight.
  • Almost any tiny animal may be seen burrowing in the arid dirt.
  • Many desert rodents spend their whole day in their burrows, which provide them with a comfortable habitat.
  • White-tailed antelope squirrels are diurnal rodents that seek for food on the scorching desert surface during the afternoon throughout the summer.
  • It is common to see squirrels pushing their bellies against cool soil or even tile of suburban patios, with their legs wide, in shaded locations, allowing their body heat to be transmitted to the cool dirt or tile, as shown in the photo.

In recent years, speculations made decades ago about the behavior of desert mice in their burrows, and about the temperature changes of the rodents in their tunnels during the intense heat of desert summers, have taken on a life of their own and been accepted as “facts.” Generalizations concerning temperatures in burrows and pack rat nests that were based on extremely restricted data taken at elevations and circumstances that were substantially different from those seen in our desert extremes have also been proven incorrect in recent years.

  1. Ultimately, there is much more that we may discover about the temperature tolerances of these creatures, as well as their techniques for avoiding overheating.
  2. Large animals do not seek refuge in burrows to avoid the scorching desert heat.
  3. It is the only North American canid that utilizes burrows all year round, unlike any other canid in North America.
  4. Other large animals, such as bighorn sheep and mule deer, seek out shaded areas to rest throughout the day and do not engage in any activity.

While living in a hot desert climate, having a huge body size actually has advantages because it allows you to heat up more slowly than a small body. Thermal inertia is the term used to describe this phenomena. It may provide enough breathing room to get through a scorching hot day.

Heat Conduction and Radiation

Using their feathers or fur to reduce the insulating value of their bodies, birds or animals may channel heat away from their bodies and into the surrounding environment. An adult curve-billed thrasher sleeks its feathers on a hot day, resulting in a thinner covering of insulating material. Early summer coats of coyotes are quite thin, since they have shed their thick winter coats in the late spring and early summer. A bighorn sheep loses its winter coat in the spring as well, although it does it in phases rather than all at once.

  • The back, on the other hand, remains covered with thick woolly fur, which serves to both insulate and shade the sheep from the scorching overhead sun during the summer months.
  • The normal body temperature of birds is often greater than the normal body temperature of mammals.
  • Because of this higher body temperature, a Gambel’s quail may continue to transfer heat to the air until the ambient temperature reaches 107 F.
  • Another advantage of a bird’s dilated blood arteries leading to its bare scaly legs is that it may discharge surplus body heat into the surrounding environment.
  • As a result, a heated bird slicks its feathers and stands tall to allow the air to circulate around its legs.
  • This works best when the ambient temperature is lower than the jackrabbit’s typical body temperature (104 F/40 C), or when the jackrabbit has been active for a period of time.

Evaporative Cooling

Evaporative cooling is the most effective means of cooling down a heated bird or mammal in the summertime. When water evaporates from a surface, it causes that surface to become cooler. When a coyote pants, the animal pushes air across the wet surfaces of its mouth, throat, and tongue in a rhythmic motion. Because of the evaporation of water, these surfaces become cooler. These surfaces are surrounded by a large number of dilated blood vessels, which serve to cool the surrounding area. The cooled blood is subsequently pumped throughout the body as a result of this process.

  • This is referred to as gular fluttering, and it produces the same effect as panting.
  • Heat has a significant effect on the brain.
  • The brain of a dog that is active, for example, is significantly colder than the rest of its body.
  • When the daytime temperature exceeds 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), a vulture will urinate on its legs.

This explains why a vulture’s legs are white when the daytime temperature is regularly around 70 degrees Fahrenheit; yet, when the daytime temperature is continuously lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, a black vulture’s legs are gray and a turkey vulture’s legs are red.

Water Income and Water Expense

Evaporative cooling is the most effective means of cooling down a heated bird or mammal in summer. It is cooling to the surface of a liquid as it evaporates from it. Coyotes pants by moving air over the wet surfaces of their mouths, throats, and tongues in a rhythmic pattern. Because of the evaporation of water, the surfaces are cooled down. These surfaces are surrounded by a large number of dilated blood vessels, which serve to cool the area. It then circulates throughout the body the cooled blood that has resulted.

  • Panting is achieved by doing the same thing, which is termed gular fluttering.
  • Thermal sensitivities of the brain are quite high.
  • During physical activity, the brain of a dog stays cooler than the rest of his body.
  • When the daytime temperature is over 70 F (21 C), a vulture will urinate on its legs.
  • This explains why a vulture’s legs are white when the daytime temperature is constantly around 70 F, but gray and red when the daytime temperature is regularly lower than 70 F.
  • The availability of free water (for example, a bighorn takes a drink at a water hole)
  • When a Phainopepla consumes a juicy mistletoe berry, for example, water is present in the diet. Animal waste water (the water generated by all animals as they digest food)
  • Oxidation water

Water expenditures might be incurred from the following sources:

  • The cooling effect of evaporation
  • The dilution and outflow of hazardous bodily wastes
  • Either eggs or milk
  • Feces

Some rodents, such as pocket mice and kangaroo rats, are completely reliant on free water – or even moist food – for their survival. The kangaroo rat is the most well-known of these rodents, and with good reason. It feeds mostly on dry, high-carbohydrate seeds; one gram of grass seed generates one-half gram of oxidation water, while one gram of corn seed produces one-half gram of oxidation water. Seeds with a high fat or protein content should be avoided since the former create too much heat, which may have to be lost through evaporative cooling, and the latter require too much water for diluting waste products, both of which are undesirable.

  1. Additionally, dried seeds, when kept in the burrow, can absorb up to 30 percent of their weight in water due to the greater humidity in the burrow, providing the animal with additional water sources.
  2. When a mouse exhales, it uses a nasal cooling mechanism that removes water from the air as it travels through the nasal chambers.
  3. A kangaroo rat may generate urine twice as concentrated as sea water and feces five times drier than a lab rat’s droppings.
  4. Final point: A female kangaroo rat will normally reproduce only if there is enough green plants or insects available to supplement its water balance.
  5. Cactus mice and pack rats are excellent examples of this type of eating approach.
  6. Aside from rodents, there are a variety of different creatures that obtain the majority of their water from food.
  7. cholla fruits, which provide pronghorns with a means of survival on the water.
  8. Other desert residents, such as coyotes, mule deer, and bighorn sheep, require access to free water on a periodic basis.

In fact, water holes serve as the focal point of their home ranges. Such species, including humans, can only be found in areas where there is free water available or where it can be delivered by humans.

Humans In a Hot, Arid Environment

When it comes to staying cool, humans are physically excellent, but when it comes to conserving water, they are very lousy. The main way the body cools itself is by sweating, and it is through the evaporation of this perspiration from every inch of its surface that it cools its bare skin. On a really hot day in the desert, though, a human can lose as much as 12 liters (a little more than 3 gallons) of water via perspiration in one hour. Humans have a unique system for cooling their large brains: the hypothalamus.

  • Among primates, this cranial radiator is one of the most unusual.
  • When the sun is completely overhead, just the head and shoulders receive direct sunlight; however, a four-legged animal’s entire back, shoulders, and head are exposed to the sun when the sun is directly overhead.
  • The fact that humans are able to stand upright implies that the majority of their body is elevated above the scorching desert floor, resulting in a substantially lower rate of heat acquisition from the desert surface than that of quadrupeds.
  • The fact that you are naked is also an advantage.
  • In addition, the patch of thick hair on top of our heads has a purpose other than simple ornamentation: it protects the skull and its heat-sensitive brain from the sun’s radiation.
  • Consider what it might be like to be in the Sonoran Desert on a normal summer day.
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Animals at the extremes: The desert environment

Populations of closely related species fill comparable niches under a variety of environmental conditions. Environmental physiologists are concerned with the question of whether differences in biochemistry and physiology between related species living in different environments are the result of physiological acclimatisation (also known as phenotypic flexibility), phenotypic plasticity, or evolutionary adaptation. Keep in mind from Section 3.3 that hoopoe larks that were wild-caught in the Arabian desert and housed at 25°C for just three weeks showed increased body mass, higher food intake, and increased basal metabolic rate (BMR) as compared to hoopoe larks that were kept at 36°C The potential of phenotypic plasticity and/or flexibility should be considered when doing interspecific comparisons of BMR, it goes without saying.

There have been significant differences in metabolic rates between vertebrate species of similar body mass within a particular taxonomic group but living in different environments, for example, metabolic rates of some desert mammals are relatively low in comparison to metabolic rates of mammals of similar size within the same taxonomic group.

  • Environmental variables have a significant role in determining the net primary productivity of the environment.
  • However, metabolic rates of animal species that eat low-energy diets, such as herbivores who consume vast quantities of fibrous plants, are comparatively low when compared to species that eat high-energy foods such as fruits and nuts, which have higher metabolic rates.
  • In contrast, it is possible that animals living in habitats with ample food have developed very high metabolic rates; these species ‘run and idle quickly’.
  • The overall energy expenditures of an animal’s usual daily activities and rest periods are represented by the mean field metabolic rates.
  • They are the most numerous animals in North America, and they may be found in a variety of environments from Alaska to Central and South America.
  • It is a nocturnal creature that emerges from its burrow at night to feed on seeds, as well as leaves and insects on occasion.
  • The five species chosen all have comparable diets, although they dwell in a variety of settings with different natural productivity.
  • Breeding colonies of all the species, which were received from the PeromyscusGenetic Stock Center, were kept in the laboratory under the same circumstances and fed the same food ad libitum, which was the same for all of the species.
  • The mice in these colonies had been kept in captivity for 10–40 generations, depending on the colony’s age.

This would have prevented any physiological acclimatisation to the environment from occurring, and selection for adaption to the natural environment would have been slowed or stopped altogether.

Table 8Peromyscusspecies studied and their natural habitats (Mueller and Diamond, 2001)

Species Body mass/g Ancestral site Habitat type NPP/g C m −2yr −1
P. eremicus 22.2 ± 2.8* Nr Tucson Arizona Sonoran desert 48
P. melanophrys 45.0 ± 6.3 Zacatecas in Mexico Yucca /agave desert 67
P. californicus 43.5 ± 4.5 Santa Monica Mts, CA Chaparral/coastal sage scrub 340
P. maniculatus 19.0 ± 1.4 Nr Ann Arbor, MI Deciduous woodland and meadow 600
P. leucopus 19.1 ± 3.5 Nr Linville, NC Deciduous/coniferous forest 604

A well-provisioned animal’s metabolic rate and environmental productivity: well-provisioned animals evolved to run and idle quickly (Mueller and Diamond, 2001). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 98, No. 1 (1998) (22). The National Academy of Sciences published a paper by Mueller and Diamond in which they said that (2001) The metabolic rate and the productivity of the environment: well-provisioned animals have evolved to run and idle quickly. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol.

  • 1 (1998) (22).
  • * SE is an abbreviation for Southeast Europe.
  • On a daily basis, the dry mass of food ingested, the dry mass of feces excreted, and the body mass of the mice were all recorded.
  • Figures 45a and b depict, respectively, mass-adjusted basal metabolic rate (BMR) and daily food consumption plotted against net primary production (NPP) for the five species of mice.
  • Mueller, P., and Diamond, J.
  • of the National Academy of Sciences, volume 98, page 98.
  • (2001) Metabolic rate and environmental productivity: well-provided animals evolved to run and island quickly.
  • of the National Academy of Sciences, volume 98, page 98.
  • Fig.
  • As a function of habitat NPP, the BMR of five species of Peromyscusa was assessed as oxygen consumption (body-mass adjustedVO 2in units of ml of O 2min 1) in milliliters of oxygen per minute.

Activity 18

Describe the information shown in Figures 45a and b.


When it comes to NPP and BMR, there is a beneficial association. When the NPP is 50 g C m2yr1, animals have a BMR of around 0.8 ml O 2min1 in this environment. With an increase in NPP to 600 g C m2yr1, animals have a BMR of around 1.1. The amount of food consumed also has a beneficial relationship with NPP. When NPP levels are at 50 g C m2yr1, food consumption (g day 1) is around 2.3, and when NPP levels are 600, food intake (g day 1) is around 3.0. The net productivity of each species’ habitat of origin, basal metabolic rate (BMR), and total energy intake (the latter of which is equivalent to total energy expenditure) vary in the same rank order among the fivePeromyscusspecies.

  • P.
  • melanophrys, two desert species with low basal metabolic rates (BMR) and food intake, are the species with the lowest values for BMR and food intake (a measure of FMR).
  • Peromyscus californicus had a BMR and daily food consumption that were in the middle of the range.
  • leucopus and P.
  • P.
  • maniculatus, species with the highest values for BMR and food intake, were jumpy and ready to escape from their cages, biting people who handled them.
  • eremicus andP.

In the case of desert animals, it is easy to view their behavior as a result of a need to conserve energy.

Section 5 is summarized as follows: It was hypothesized by the researchers that the poor primary production of deserts, as well as the limited supply of food, are associated with the low body mass index (BMI) and fat mass index (FMI) of desert animals.

The diets of the five species were comparable, and they were all given ad libitum.

eremicus and P.


leucopus, two species from forest, had the highest BMR and food intake values, whereas P.

Because all of the deer mice in this study were derived from stock that had been kept in captivity for 10–40 generations, this examination was extremely thorough. It was therefore unable to interpret the findings in terms of phenotypic plasticity or flexibility.

17 Animals Amazingly Adapted to Thrive in Deserts

In order to survive in the desert, animals must learn to adapt not only to the absence of water, but also to the extreme temperature swings that can range from extremely hot to extremely cold. They do so in a number of ways, whether it’s through the use of enormous ears to radiate heat or thick coats to protect sunburn and resist frigid weather, but they’re all out of the ordinary in some manner. Some are nocturnal in order to avoid the heat of the day, and they all make the most of the limited water available to them.

African Bullfrog

Photograph by Stuart G. Porter/Shutterstock It’s not every day that you come across an afrog that can survive in deserts and even mountains at heights of 4,000 feet or higher. The African bullfrog, the second-largest frog on the African continent and the second-largest frog in the world, understands how to beat the heat. Instead, it chooses to bury itself until the weather improves. During hot, dry weather, the bullfrog may burrow into the earth and go into estivation, which is a state similar to hibernation, to remain inactive.

It is capable of being in estivation for extended periods of time — even for more than a year — and surviving to lose up to 38 percent of its body weight.

It will consume anything that is tiny enough to fit in its mouth, including birds, rats, and other frogs, among other things.

Costa’s Hummingbird

Shutterstock image courtesy of Takahashi Photography The Costa’s hummingbird, a species that thrives in a desert environment, may be found in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. These little gems can be found in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. By relocating to chaparral or scrub habitats during the warmest summer days, the small bird may avoid the scorching heat of the day. Meanwhile, when the temperatures drop below freezing at night, the hummingbird enters a condition of torpor, lowering its heart rate from its typical 500-900 beats per minute to 50 beats per minute, allowing it to save its energy reserves.

Sand Cat

Takahashi Photography/Shutterstock.com The Costa’s hummingbird, a species that thrives in a desert environment, may be found in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, and they are like little diamonds. By relocating to chaparral or scrub habitats during the warmest summer days, the small bird may avoid the intense heat of the day. When temperatures drop below freezing at night, the hummingbird enters a condition of torpor, lowering its heart rate from its normal 500-900 beats per minute to 50 beats per minute, allowing it to conserve energy.

While it obtains all of the water it requires from the nectar and insects on which it feeds, it is not opposed to sipping from a water source when one is present.

Arabian Oryx

Photograph by Max Earey/Shutterstock It may seem weird to conceive of a giant animal capable of surviving in severely hot desert temperatures, yet the Arabian oryx demonstrates how effective they can be in such situations. Because of its white coat, this herbivore is able to reflect sunlight throughout the day, while its black legs aid to absorb heat during cold desert mornings. If there is no other fodder available, it can detect rain from vast distances and find fresh grasses and plants to eat.

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It eats in the early morning and late afternoon, and rests in sheltered locations during the scorching daytime sun.

It obtains water from the dew on the leaves of the plants it consumes as well as from the actual water content of the plants.

Arabian Wolf

Felagund / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 The Arabian wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf that has evolved to survive in the desert’s punishing temperatures and aridity. This 40-pound wolf has a long coat in the winter to help keep it warm against cold weather, and while it has a shorter coat in the summer, the longer hair stays behind its back to help keep it cool against the heat of the sun in the summer. It also possesses extra-large ears, which aid in the dissipation of body heat.

Arabian wolves are solitary animals which only get together during breeding season or when there is a large supply of food available.

Its prey ranges from tiny birds, reptiles, and hares to bigger animals such as gazelles and ibexes, and it is nocturnal.

Desert Hedgehog

Max Korostischeveski / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 The desert hedgehog, which may be found throughout Africa and the Middle East, is one of the cutest desert dwellers on the planet. This species of hedgehog, which is adapted to thrive in desert and arid scrub settings, is one of the smallest in the world, only reaching lengths of between 5 and 9 inches. It survives by hiding in its burrow during the day and hunting at night to avoid the scorching sun. It consumes a wide variety of prey, ranging from insects and invertebrates to bird eggs, snakes, and scorpions.

Snow Leopard

Photograph by Peter Wey / Shutterstock The snow leopard, which may be found in the Gobi desert and other parts of Inner Asia, is perhaps one of the most well-known of the desert’s residents. The snow leopard’s high-altitude habitat is one of the most difficult locations on the planet to exist, but it does it gracefully. In order to take in enough oxygen from the thin alpine air, it has a big chest cavity, and its enormous nasal chambers aid in warming the air before it enters the lungs.

Its huge paws and extra-long tail assist it in maintaining superb balance on uneven terrain, and its long, thick coat keeps it warm even in frigid weather.


Photograph courtesy of Reptiles4all / Shutterstock A rodent with kangaroo-like characteristics, the jerboa is endemic to arid climates in North Africa, China, and Mongolia and is about the size of a gnat. Jerboas may be found in deserts all over the world, from the Sahara, which is the hottest desert on the planet, to the Gobi, which is one of the coldest deserts on the planet. It is possible to locate a member of the Jerboa family contentedly tunneling beneath the ground on either end of the spectrum.

It has short forearms and well-built hind legs, which are designed for digging, and it possesses folds of skin that can block off its nose from sand when necessary.

Its large rear legs enable it to go quickly while expelling the least amount of energy.

In fact, in laboratory investigations, jerboas have been seen to survive only on dried seeds for periods of up to three years.

Sonoran Pronghorn

Shutterstock image courtesy of Reptiles4all. The jerboa is a small rodent that is endemic to arid regions of North Africa, China, and Mongolia. It looks a lot like a kangaroo. There are jerboas on every continent and they may be found in deserts all over the globe. They can be found in all kinds of climates, from the sweltering Sahara to the freezing Gobi, among the world’s coldest. The jerboa family has burrowed beneath the ground at both extremes, and they are content with their lives. The jerboa is able to survive in severe heat or cold by burrowing into the earth.

This little critter also has unique hairs that prevent sand from entering into its ears.

In fact, the flora and insects that jerboas consume provide them with all of the water they require.


courtesy of Tratong / Shutterstock Meerkats have become a symbol of the Kalahari desert, and their presence is hard to miss. However, not only does this species have a distinct personality, but it is also well suited to the demands of its demanding habitat. In addition to their morphological characteristics, meerkats have a number of characteristics that make them well-suited for desert living. It is their diet that provides them with a significant amount of water. They prey on insects, snakes, and scorpions.

Meerkats develop tunnel networks to hide from predators and to survive in extreme weather conditions.

Sand may be kept out of their ears by closing their ears. They have a third eyelid to shield their eyes from the sun. The black colour surrounding their eyes provides additional protection by lowering the glare of the sun, which allows them to have a higher chance of seeing danger.

Kalahari Lions

Mullineux / Shutterstock – Moments in time An adaptation to its desert habitat has allowed the Kalahari lion to survive as a subspecies of the African lion. In terms of physical characteristics, they have longer legs and slimmer bodies, and males have substantially darker manes than females. The lions of the Kalahari have more endurance, which they require. These lions, which live in smaller groups, claim greater territories and hunt on smaller prey, which can range from antelope to porcupines to birds, among other things.

They achieve this by panting and sweating through the pads of their paws, which helps to cool their blood.

Couch’s Spadefoot Toad

Photograph by Matt Jeppson / Shutterstock This little toad has adapted to arid circumstances better than any other amphibian in North America, including the frogs. Couch’s spadefoot toad manages to thrive by doing, well, pretty much absolutely nothing. It spends much of its time in a burrow, waiting for the rainy season to arrive. Estimation is the term used to describe this condition of inactivity. It is common for the Couch’s spadefoot toad to hibernate for eight to ten months out of the year, but it can stay in its burrow for up to twice that amount of time if the weather is dry.

Upon reappearing, it can lay eggs within the first two days of doing so, and tadpoles can hatch within 15-36 hours of that.

It is critical to act quickly since ponds in the desert dry up very quickly.

Desert Bighorn Sheep

The photograph is courtesy of Matt Jeppson / Shutterstock More than any other amphibian in North America, this little toad has adapted to arid circumstances better than anything else. It is only by doing nothing that Couch’s spadefoot toad may live. It spends the most of its time in a burrow, waiting for the rainy season to come around. It is known as estivation when a person is in this condition of dormancy. It is common for the Couch’s spadefoot toad to hibernate for eight to ten months out of the year, but it can remain in its burrow for up to twice that amount of time if the weather is particularly dry.

In the first two days after reappearing, it can lay eggs that will hatch within 15-36 hours, and tadpoles will hatch in 15-36 hours.

The transformation of tadpoles can occur in as little as 9 days. Because ponds in the desert dry up quickly, it is critical to act quickly. For the first eight to ten months, adults must consume as many insects as they can before excavating a tunnel in which to rest for the remaining time.

Elf Owl

courtesy of Ed Schneider / Shutterstock While you would not expect to find an owl in the desert, the elf owl is a critter that thrives in hot, arid climates. Even though these little owls are small, at only about 5 inches long, they are robust enough to grab and consume scorpions, among other things. They are found in riparian regions of the Sonoran desert in the western United States, where they seek refuge from the heat of the day by sleeping in tree cavities or holes in saguaro cactus that have been abandoned by woodpeckers.

They can thrive in regions where there are no surface water supplies because they are able to get sufficient water from the food they eat.

Pallid Bat

Minicooper93402/Flickr / Creative Commons BY 2.0 The importance of bats in any ecosystem cannot be overstated, yet not every bat can survive in the harsh climate of a desert. It may be found in grassland, scrub desert, and other arid environments in western North America and Cuba, and it likes dry conditions. It has even been seen in Death Valley, according to reports. In comparison to other bat species, the pallid bat is unusual in that it has the capacity to regulate its internal temperature, matching it to the temperature of its surrounding environment during winter hibernation and during rest to preserve energy throughout the winter.

As opposed to this, it will swoop down on prey and catch it before transporting it to a more convenient spot to consume.

Ring-Tailed Cat

Robert Body / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 The ring-tailed cat, also known as the ringtail, is a nocturnal species that looks like a fox and has a tail that is similar to that of a raccoon. This species is most closely related to raccoons in terms of appearance. This superb climber, which is also known by the term “miner’s cat,” may be found on rocky outcroppings and, as the name implies, mine shafts, where it thrives. It can mount anything, from cliffs to cactus, by turning its hind feet 180 degrees and using its semi-retractable claws to get exceptional hold on the surface.

The species may be found across the western United States, especially the Sonoran desert of Arizona, where it can be found.

It will eat anything from fruit to insects to reptiles to small animals, and it is most active at night to avoid the worst of the desert’s heat. It is capable of surviving without water provided its food contains sufficient moisture, although it likes to be in close proximity to a water supply.

Fennec Fox

Photograph by Hagit Berkovich / Shutterstock The fennec fox is a species of fox that occurs in the deserts of North Africa. Despite its nocturnal habits, this omnivore possesses gigantic ears that may grow to be as long as one-quarter of its whole body length. These aid in the cooling of the animal by releasing heat from the blood that flows through their bodies. Aside from that, it has a thick fur coat that keeps it warm on freezing nights, and the fur that covers its paws keeps it protected from the hot, dry sand while also assisting it in keeping from sinking into the soft sand.

It is able to survive in the absence of free-standing water in part because to kidneys that have been modified to decrease water loss.

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